Production and logistics synchronised perfectly

Joint disc specialist relies on the competence of IGZ’s SAP engineers as general contractors

The joint disc factory from southern Germany invested a total of about 30 million euros in the extension to its Waldkraiburg factory. In the field of intralogistics, a fully-automated high bay warehouse as well as an innovative tugger train system with automated loading and unloading, among other things, were on the agenda. As general contractor, the SAP EWM general contractor IGZ from Falkenberg was responsible for implementing this uninterrupted total system solution integrated into SAP EWM.

SKG Waldkraiburg 2015

Throughout its almost 70 years of existence, today’s Süddeutsche Gelenkscheibenfabrik GmbH & Co. KG (SGF) has become the market leader in the transmission of torques. The portfolio of the family company, with its headquarters registered in Waldkraiburg in Upper Bavaria, includes joint discs in cardan shafts and steering columns, vibration dampers in drivetrains, exhaust pipe suspensions and dynamic vibration absorbers as well as various rubber/metal parts for the storage of various units. The recipients of these completed products which are always granted the seal of approval “Made in Germany” are primarily the automobile industry as well as machine and plant manufacturers.

Restructuring as a future-proof solution

The starting gun was fired for the realisation of the intralogistics “New construction project SGF 2020” with the symbolic first cut of the spade in March 2015. The company’s largest investment to date was preceded by the strategic decision to merge the existing factories in Kraiburg and Waldkraiburg, to massively extend production capacities and to interlink this even closer with logistics. Moreover, working conditions should be created which appropriately take the age structure of the employees into consideration.

Almost no limits were placed on the design of the extensive factory premises in Waldkraiburg. In a first step, new production areas of around 5,000 square metres have been created directly connected to the existing hall complex, and directly neighbouring that a 24-metre high fully automated high bay warehouse has been built. “The decision for a fully automated high bay warehouse was brought about by a feasibility study of the different storage systems”, explains Gerald Seidinger, Logistics Manager and Deputy Factory Manager of SGF. “The 7.5 metre high warehouse used previously, conventionally serviced by a forklift, was far inferior to a 2-alley automated system solution with about 5,800 pallet spaces with double-deep storage.” The new automatic plant should be supplemented with an attached alley with approx. 600 spaces for non-standard containers of different sizes, which will be stored and removed there with support from forklift trucks. A separate hazardous materials warehouse was also to be constructed.

Gerald Seidinger and his team were also asked to eliminate the high work in processes resulting from the principle of workshop production. In order to prevent “parts tourism” and the allocation of expensive production areas with material which is not immediately required, a SAP EWM-supported route planning with automated tugger train loading and unloading should also be implemented which ultimately makes the forklift truck superfluous in the direct production environment.

Comprehensive competence required

fully-automated high bay warehouse

The search for a general contractor for the implementation of the SAP for the integrated total system solution turned out to be more expensive than initially thought. “We soon had to establish that not every general contractor can also provide SAP EWM for warehouse logistics. And not all with SAP competences have their own know-how, but rather buy this from third party providers. We didn’t want that - there had to be one contact partner for everything”, stresses the SGF Logistics Manager. Moreover, the concept of an automated tugger loading was to be realised with a cycle time of less than three minutes. Lacking or insufficient know-how about how to implement this idea was a further criteria for exclusion.

In this context, the price/performance ratio of the SAP EWM general contractor IGZ was convincing. Besides SAP consulting and implementation, the “SAP engineers” from Falkenberg also offer general contractor services in the area of plant and control technology for new warehouses, extensions and retrofits. These holistic solutions are based solely on SAP EWM (Extended Warehouse Management) with direct SPS connection using SAP EWM/MFS (Material Flow System). “As a general contractor we offer our clients everything from one source, from software to mechanics, and ensure that the goals connected with greater SAP integration with regard to efficiency, stability, transparency and quality are also actually achieved”, says Johann Zrenner, Managing Director of IGZ alongside Wolfgang Gropengießer.

High bay warehouse with energy saving factor

Said, done. A 2-alley, fully automated high bay warehouse (HBW) with approximately 5,800 pallet spaces with double deep storage has been built. These shall be supplied and removed by two stacker cranes which are fitted with two load handling attachments and comply with the requirements defined for maximum possible energy efficiency. Of the 24-metre high plant, 21.5 metres of it can still be seen. The reason for this is that the HBW was sunk about 2.8 metres into the ground in order to provide natural cooling for temperature-sensitive raw materials and products. This solution also saves energy, reduces operating costs and, not least, is practical for reason of environmental protection.

The new intralogistics at SGF in Waldkraiburg are set out in such a way that in future up to 100 HGVs can be despatched daily over seven loading bridges. Goods delivered on pallets will be unloaded using forklift trucks and placed in materials handling in the incoming goods area of the HBW, where they will go through an automated weight and shape control. By determining the weight and the item weights stored in SAP, it is ensured that the volume is also recorded correctly. The storage of pallets follows defined SAP EWM storage strategies, so that the best storage place will be selected for each load carried, depending on the items being carried. Finished products are removed according to FIFO (first in – first out).

Fully-automated tugger train loading and unloading

“The key feature of the total system solution controlled throughout by SAP is the tugger train solution integrated in the EWM, which ensures a clocked supply and removal of materials in synchronisation with the production”, says IGZ-GU Project Manager Georg Witt. Gerald Seidinger also sees it this way: “IGZ managed to transfer our employees’ idea of a tugger train plan with fully automated loading and unloading into reality. The company also met the demand for a cycle time for unloading and loading of less than three minutes. This was based on the conviction that a tugger train cannot be efficiently operated until such a minimal time window is observed.”

Goods and containers required are now requested by the employees in Production through already existing PDA terminals. Return transport of finished products as well as raw materials and half-finished products which are no longer required will be registered in parallel. These reports shall be processed in the SAP EWM dialogue so that a corresponding order for removal from storage will be generated from the HBW as a result. The materials run through the connected materials handling and will be supplied through cross conveyor to the transfer points of the tugger train station. There, four telescopic forks sunk into the ground take the goods returned from Production from the tugger train and lay these on the conveyor line. Directly after that, the parts required for the production can also be automatically taken off and loaded onto the tugger train.

“In this way, works in process will be reduced to a minimum, or reduced to what is actually necessary for immediate processing”, stresses Gerald Seidinger. The production is also operated without forklifts. “Only tugger trains and servicing tools for setting up and repairs remains.” A high level of directional stability is ensured using a laser pointer attached to the centre of the train vehicle of the trailer. Two tugger trains with four carts are used per shift, which cover about 56 kilometres a day in total. Projected to one year, this amounts to a distance of 14,100 kilometres.

project team IGZ and SGF
Project team SGF & IGZ together with Mr. Seidinger SGF (2nd from left) and Mr. Zrenner MD IGZ (1st from left)

System visualisation now over mobile devices

In order to continuously maintain the required availability and a safe operation of the total system installed at SGF, the medium-sized company also relies on WinCC. This involves a portable version of the system visualisation for tablets and other end devices developed further by IGZ. The level of detail extends to sensor and actuator level and therefore allows for early detection and resolution of problems. SAP information, such as pallets or order data can also be superimposed to transported loading units online. Using a menu navigation the tablets can be used very easily and almost intuitively. This also accommodates older employees, so those from a generation which did not of course grow up with computers, the internet, smartphones and social media.

SAP EWM supports lean production

When developing the automation solution implemented on the basis of SAP EWM / MFS, those responsible for the project at SGF involved their own employees early on. The first result of the constructive interaction was specific recommendations for action on the basis of a detailed analysis of the production and logistics processes which have now taken a visible shape on the structural and mechanical level. Moreover, all functions should be integrated and networked in SAP.

“The idea of cooperating also proved itself here”, says Head of Logistics Gerald Seidinger. Besides the experts from IGZ, specialists from SGF who co-designed the SAP mobile data interface and deserve a mention. He also displays satisfaction with the commitment of the IGZ team under the management of GU Project Manager Georg Witt and stresses the always open and fair communication from the “great team”. The realisation of such a demanding project was of course never free from discussion. But solutions were always found in the fastest possible time which corresponded with SGF’s project objectives.

Gerald Seidinger is proud of what was achieved together with IGZ as general contractor. At the same time he makes reference to the significance of the solution implemented for the further skills of Süddeutsche Gelenkscheibenfabrik. “The new high bay warehouse, together with the materials handling and SAP EWM are the heart and motor of our factory. The tugger trains used on the other hand are veins - substantially supported by an innovative and novel automated loading system and with increased efficiency.” With the extension, the foundations have now been laid to develop strong products in the future and open up new markets. The areas still optionally available at the Waldkraiburg site will allow any necessary future developments at any time. The construction of an automated long materials storage for the storage of pipe bundles over six metres long has already been agreed as fixed. IGZ as general contractor also delivers the complete system technology including control technology here and is responsible for its integration in the existing SAP EWM/MFS landscape of SGF. January 2016 is the planned date to go live.

Source: Logistics for companies 11/12-2015, Sabine Vogel

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